Thomas Walker (1749–1817) was an English cotton merchant and political radical.
He was the son of Thomas Walker, a merchant in Bristol who moved to Manchester.An early influence was the teaching of James Burgh. He became a Manchester cotton merchant himself. He had a town house and warehouse on South Parade, adjacent to St Mary's Church, Manchester, and a country place at Barlow Hall, rented from William Egerton.
Bristol is a city and county in South West England with a population of 463,400. The wider district has the 10th-largest population in England. The urban area population of 724,000 is the 8th-largest in the UK. The city borders North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, with the cities of Bath and Gloucester to the south-east and north-east, respectively. South Wales lies across the Severn estuary.
Manchester is a major city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.7 million, and third-most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority for the city is Manchester City Council.
James Burgh (1714–1775) was a British Whig politician whose book Political Disquisitions set out an early case for free speech and universal suffrage: in it, he writes, "All lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the people." He has been judged "one of England's foremost propagandists for radical reform".
In 1784 Walker led the successful local opposition to William Pitt's fustian tax.With Thomas Richardson, he testified to the Board of Trade committee in London in January 1785. After some confusion during the spring, the House of Commons voted to repeal the tax in April, and the Manchester men returned north as heroes. The same year he founded the General Chamber of Manufactures, set up to lobby against Pitt's measures on trade with Ireland.
Fustian is a variety of heavy cloth woven from cotton, chiefly prepared for menswear. It is also used figuratively to refer to pompous, inflated or pretentious writing or speech, from at least the time of Shakespeare. This literary use is because the cloth type was often used as padding, hence, the purposeless words are fustian.
In 1787 Walker opposed the Eden Treaty, a divisive position.In 1788, at a meeting of fustian manufacturers and calico printers about the East India Company, Robert Peel spoke, and the unpopular Walker clashed physically with his brother Laurence.
The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with Mughal India and the East Indies, and later with Qing China. The company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China.
Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet was a British politician and industrialist and one of early textile manufacturers of the Industrial Revolution. He was the father of Sir Robert Peel, twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Walker was well connected, through business, religious, political and family networks. Himself an Anglican of latitudinarian views, he supported the campaign against the religious disabilities of dissenters, and was a founder member of the Unitarian Society set up by Theophilus Lindsey.He took to heart comments of John Jebb that Pitt, after Lord North, was the most dangerous politician in the country. He married into the Shore family of Sheffield: Samuel Shore (1738–1828), his brother-in-law, was an ironmaster, dissenter, and activist of the Yorkshire Association.
Latitudinarians, or latitude men, were initially a group of 17th-century English theologians – clerics and academics – from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, who were moderate Anglicans. In particular, they believed that adhering to very specific doctrines, liturgical practices, and church organizational forms, as did the Puritans, was not necessary and could be harmful: "The sense that one had special instructions from God made individuals less amenable to moderation and compromise, or to reason itself." Thus, the latitudinarians supported a broad-based Protestantism. They were later referred to as Broad Church.
Theophilus Lindsey was an English theologian and clergyman who founded the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in the country, at Essex Street Chapel.
John Jebb (1736–1786) was an English divine, medical doctor, and religious and political reformer.
Among his friends and correspondents were Charles James Fox, the leading Whig Lord Derby, John Horne Tooke and Thomas Paine.He took on as apprentices the sons of both Joseph Priestley and James Watt; other business connections were with Matthew Boulton and Josiah Wedgwood. At the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society he associated with like-minded men: John Ferriar the physician, Joseph Collier the surgeon, Samuel Jackson the merchant, and Thomas Cooper the barrister.
Charles James Fox, styled The Honourable from 1762, was a prominent British Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned 38 years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and who was the arch-rival of William Pitt the Younger. His father Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, a leading Whig of his day, had similarly been the great rival of Pitt's famous father William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. He rose to prominence in the House of Commons as a forceful and eloquent speaker with a notorious and colourful private life, though his opinions were rather conservative and conventional. However, with the coming of the American War of Independence and the influence of the Whig Edmund Burke, Fox's opinions evolved into some of the most radical ever to be aired in the Parliament of his era.
Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby PC, usually styled Lord Stanley from 1771 to 1776, was a British peer and politician of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He held office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1783 in the Fox–North coalition and between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents.
John Horne Tooke, known as John Horne until 1782 when he added the name of his friend William Tooke to his own making his surname "Horne Tooke", was an English clergyman, politician, and philologist.
The Manchester committee against the slave trade was set up on 27 December 1787. Walker was the chairman, Samuel Jackson the secretary, and there were 29 other founder members.Over the next four years members, including Walker, then joined other committees, including that of the Manchester Infirmary.
A commission was given to James Anderson of Hermiston, who wrote Observations on Slavery (1789).In 1790 Walker and Cooper went to London, working with the abolitionists there to lobby Members of Parliament. Walker was a pivotal figure for Manchester abolitionism, took shares in the Sierra Leone Company, and was in touch with the London Abolition Committee. By 1792, 15 of the committee members had joined the Literary and Philosophical Society; they included Walker and Ferriar, George Lloyd the barrister, Thomas Barnes and Thomas Henry. The committee, however, had by then shed some Tory members, including the prominent Loyalist Nathan Crompton, and others remained as nominal supporters only.
There was also opposition, with Lawrence Peel taking a significant part in organising an anti-abolition petition.The Infirmary experienced a sharp dispute in the years 1788 to 1790, with reformers including Ferriar and Thomas Percival arguing for expansion, while conservative surgeons including Charles White defended the status quo. A meeting at Michaelmas 1790 saw Walker speak forcefully for expenditure on medical assistants. The measure passed, but William Roberts who was present took offence, and carried forward a vendetta.
Partly by choice, Manchester in the 18th century, which by 1790 had a population of 75,000, lacked municipal structures beyond the legacy of the Middle Ages. It was not a parliamentary borough, meaning it avoided divisive national elections, as Walker's opponent Roberts had argued in 1788.The Tory establishment in Manchester, in particular the Peel family of manufacturers, grouped around the manorial institutions and Manchester collegiate church. The Whig and dissenter political leaders had little access to the manorial positions; the manor of Manchester ran in the family of the Mosley baronets, and in 1790 the title was held by a minor.
In October 1790 Walker was elected borough-reeve of Manchester.The electoral body was the jury of the court leet, a medieval survival summoned by the lord of the manor. The borough-reeve was the leading citizen of the town, and was elected with two Constables. The typical borough-reeve was a Tory merchant or textile manufacturer. The major power attached to the office was the calling of public meetings. Through deputy and special constables, the court leet also oversaw peacekeeping.
Walker was preceded in the annual post by Edward Place, and followed by Nathan Crompton.Place had called a public meeting on 3 February 1790, at which resolutions had been passed including one stating that Dissenter agitation should be viewed with "alarm". Nathan Crompton was a "Church and King" man.
Walker was also, with Thomas Cooper, dominant in Manchester radical politics.In 1790, while he was borough-reeve, Walker founded the Manchester Constitutional Society. He belonged to the Society for Constitutional Information and edited the Manchester Herald. It was founded by Cooper and Walker, as an alternative to the conservative Manchester Mercury run by Joseph Harrop, was abolitionist, and wrote positively about the French Revolution. It appeared from 31 March 1792, printed by Matthew Falkner and Samuel Birch, both Constitutional Society Members. Falkner had a printing house.
After the Priestley Riots of July 1791, the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society was asked to send a message of support to Joseph Priestley, who had had to flee Birmingham, as had been done by the Derby Philosophical Society. The request was refused, however. On this, a group including Cooper and Walker resigned en masse, with James Watt junior, Joseph Priestley junior, Samuel Jackson and others.On 4 November 1791 Walker attended the Revolution Dinner at the London Tavern, with Priestley, Tom Paine, and Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve. When in April 1792 Cooper and James Watt junior went to Paris, they were ostensibly travelling on business for Walker's firm. They carried a letter from Walker to Pétion, the mayor of the city, proclaiming a maturing English revolution.
In September 1792 a large group of Manchester public house keepers banned meetings of the local reform societies; Walker reacted by holding the Constitutional Society and Manchester Reform Society meetings in his town house. The Manchester Constitutional Society was one of the parties to a joint address sent in November 1792 to the French Convention, the others being the London Corresponding Society, the Manchester Reformation Society, the Norwich Revolution Society and the Society of the Friends of the People.
Archibald Prentice's account of these events regards the formation of a "Church and King Club" in Manchester as a result of the rejection in 1790 of nonconformist pressure to relax religious tests. The Manchester Constitutional Club was a reaction to it: and besides Cooper and Walker, the members were James Darbishire, Thomas Kershaw, George Lloyd and George Philips. The Manchester Herald was set up in March 1792, because the Manchester Chronicle and Manchester Mercury had ceased to give space to radical views.
Walker's warehouse was attacked in December 1792 by a "Church and King" mob: he managed to drive them off.On Walker's published account, the violence that began on 10 December 1792 lasted for three nights, and occurred in four locations, with the constables not intervening. It affected his house, which was on South Parade; that of Joseph Collier; and that of Matthew Falkner, with the Manchester Herald office being broken up. It also was directed at William Gorse, of the Manchester Reformation Society, in Great Newton Street (in what is now the Northern Quarter). Richard Unite, the deputy constable, is considered to have connived at the rioting.
In August 1793 Joseph Priestley was under the impression that both Cooper and Walker would leave for America; in the event, Cooper went but Walker stayed in Manchester.Birch and Falkner left for America in spring of 1793, and the last issue of the Manchester Herald appeared on 23 March.
In 1794 Walker was prosecuted for treasonable conspiracy; but the evidence was found to be perjured, and the charge was abandoned. At the trial he was defended by Thomas Erskine.
Edward Law in 1793 was made king's sergeant and attorney-general for the County Palatine of Lancaster. He prosecuted Walker for conspiracy to overthrow the constitution.The case began with evidence gathered by the Rev. John Griffith, a Manchester magistrate. A chaplain of the Manchester Collegiate Church, who became a fellow there in November 1793, he was later criticised for his role in Walker's prosecution. Summer of 1793 saw rumours circulate in Manchester about Walker: words he had used against the king, armed men he was training. Griffith found an informer, Thomas Dunn, and investigated what evidence could be collected against Walker. On the basis of Dunn's testimony, Griffith issued an arrest warrant for Walker, on a treason charge.
At that point, Walker was in London: he asked his brother Richard and solicitor to make enquiries of Griffith, while he himself contacted Henry Dundas, the Home Secretary. Lesser figures in the reform societies were also proceeded against. The treason charge against Walker was dropped; but he was brought to trial on a seditious conspiracy charge in April 1794 in Lancaster, before Judge John Heath.This was a major case, with ten defendants (eight only in the dock) including Joseph Collier, and large legal teams. Edward Law led for the prosecution, with four juniors; Thomas Erskine for the defence had four other counsel also, including Felix Vaughan.
The jury heard testimony about the attack on Walker's warehouse, and his subsequent collecting of arms, which were later fired over the head of a crowd. Dunn on re-examination was found to be drunk, and his evidence on armed men was directly contradicted. Law gave up the case against Walker, and the jury acquitted him; Dunn was later convicted of perjury.
Walker withdrew from political activity after the trial, but in 1795 was a signatory to a petition criticising government measures, with other members of the anti-slavery committee including Samuel Greg, Lloyd and Percival.After a dormant period, the reform societies became more active again in 1796, and by 1797 Walker had again emerged as a local leader in Manchester.
In personal terms, Walker's radicalism cost him dear. The cotton and fustian business he ran failed. (The economic context was a pause in Manchester's growth, in the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars.) Felix Vaughan, who died in 1799, left Walker a property at Longford outside Manchester, which became the family home.He died at Longford on 2 February 1817.
Walker married Hannah, daughter of Samuel Shore, and brother of Samuel Shore (1738–1828). They had three sons and three daughters.The sons included Thomas Walker (1784–1836) the author, and Charles James Stanley the magistrate.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality, commonly known as the Jacobin Club or simply the Jacobins, became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789 and following. The period of their political ascendency includes the Reign of Terror, during which time well over ten thousand people were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.
Richard Price was a British moral philosopher, nonconformist preacher and mathematician. He was also a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution. He was well-connected and fostered communication between a large number of people, including several of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Arthur Young was an English writer on agriculture, economics and social statistics, and a campaigner for the rights of agricultural workers. Not himself successful as a farmer, he built on connections and activities as a publicist a substantial reputation as an expert on agricultural improvement. After the French Revolution of 1789, his views on its politics carried weight as an informed observer, and he became an important opponent of British reformers. Young is considered a major English writer on agriculture, but he is best known as a social and political observer. Also read widely were his Tour in Ireland (1780) and Travels in France (1792).
Percival Stockdale (1736–1811) was an English poet, writer and reformer, active especially in opposing slavery.
Thomas Cooper was an Anglo-American economist, college president and political philosopher. Cooper was described by Thomas Jefferson as "one of the ablest men in America" and by John Adams as "a learned ingenious scientific and talented madcap." Dumas Malone stated that "modern scientific progress would have been impossible without the freedom of the mind which he championed throughout life." His ideas were taken very seriously in his own time: there were substantial reviews of his writings, and some late eighteenth-century critics of materialism directed their arguments against Cooper, rather than against the better-known Joseph Priestley.
Thomas Beddoes was an English physician and scientific writer. He was born in Shifnal, Shropshire and died in Bristol fifteen years after opening his medical practice there. He was a reforming practitioner and teacher of medicine, and an associate of leading scientific figures. He worked to treat tuberculosis.
John Lee, KC, was an English lawyer, politician, and law officer of the Crown. He assisted in the early days of Unitarianism in England.
The London Revolution Society was formed 1788, ostensibly to commemorate the centennial of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the landing of William III, and was one of several radical societies in Britain in the 1790s. Other similar Revolution Societies were formed in provincial cities such as Norwich, which rivalled Sheffield as the centre of English Jacobinism.
Thomas Hinton Burley Oldfield (1755–1822) was an English political reformer, parliamentary historian and antiquary. His major work, The Representative History, has been called "a domesday book of corruption".
James Watt Junior, FRS was a Scottish engineer, businessman and activist.
Edward Burn (1762–1837) was an English cleric, known as a Calvinist Methodist preacher and polemical writer.
Joseph Pease (1772–1846) was an English Quaker activist. Among a number of reforming interests, he became best known in the context of the British India Society.
The Cambridge Intelligencer was an English weekly newspaper, appearing from 1793 to 1803, and edited by Benjamin Flower. The historian J. E. Cookson called it "the most vigorous and outspoken liberal periodical of its day".
John Tweddell (1769–1799) was an English classical scholar and traveller.
Felix Vaughan was an English barrister, known for his role as defence counsel in the treason trials of the 1790s.
Frida Knight (1910–1996) was an English Communist activist and author.
Adam Hodgson (1788–1862) was an English merchant in Liverpool, known also as a writer and abolitionist.
William Hamilton Reid was a British poet and hack writer. A supporter of radical politics turned loyalist, he is known for his 1800 pamphlet exposé The Rise and Dissolution of the Infidel Societies in this Metropolis. His later views turned again towards radicalism.
Gamaliel Lloyd (1744–1817) was an English merchant and political reformer, a supporter of the Yorkshire Association.